Outdoor Adventure Experts

Thorncrest Outfitters in Saugeen Shores
Thorncrest Outfitters in Saugeen Shores

Janette Thorne is one of the owners of Thorncrest Outfitters in Saugeen Shores. You've likely passed or gone into their Southampton store front, or seen their new Port Elgin location on Highway 21, where they have everything for the adventurer in you. From expert advice on how best to go down the Saugeen River, shuttle services to take you straight to the launch points and their boats, to guided tours on the River for every level of expertise, and so much more, you'll be sure to keep returning to this 25 year old business.


Janette and her husband, Tim, moved here from the city where he was an industrial electrician and she ran a call centre. They first lived in Port Elgin and while there, Janette worked at Casual Corners which gave her some crucial retail experience before they decided to take on entrepreneurship. Tim's background as a canoe instructor made the decision easier and being young and up for the challenge, they took the plunge. I'd say it proved successful.  

Over the years, Thorncrest Outfitters had up to four locations at one point: Paisley, Hanover, Tobermory, and Southampton, of course. Such a wide base for a relatively small, but very hands-on team, left Janette and Tim stretched thin, though, so they closed down the other locations and decided to focus on their home town of Saugeen Shores

New Beginnings
New Beginnings

This is their first year in Port Elgin - something Janette has wanted for a long time. The store front is right on Highway 21, just past the downtown core going south at 398 Goderich St.

The location has plenty of parking and just like Southampton, Port Elgin offers boat pickup, paddles, life jackets, and safety gear. While a lot of people do pick up the equipment and boats themselves, Janette says the shuttle is the most convenient option, especially if you only have one vehicle with you. Even more convenient is that you can easily book the shuttle online through their website at, though you're always welcome to visit them in store, which also has camping necessities, like cooking gear, to make sure you're prepared for your trip.

The opening of the Port Elgin store couldn't have come at a better time, too. You think you know Thorncrest Outfitters in Southampton? Well be prepared for a completely new look because the doors will be closed this winter for renovations. During the renovations, all of Southampton's operations will continue on as usual in Port Elgin, and the phone lines will even be redirected so your calls will be answered, no worries. While business will be as usual when the doors open again, the new space will be breathtaking and they're super excited for this long-awaited update. 

Another new development to look forward to is their boathouse, which is currently under construction, down by Denny's Dam. It should be done by fall and it'll make things more convenient for clients since they'll be able to pick up and return boats right by the launch point there. With its completion, you can also look forward to a full retail experience on the River. 

Fall and Winter Plans

If you didn't know, Thorncrest Outfitters also has a Christmas Tree Farm at 554 High Street in Southampton that will be open in the fall. Families will be able to come by and pick out their tree which they can later pick up closer to Christmas. Janette is planning on having potted trees available in Port Elgin, too, accommodating the two communities. 

Janette's got a lot of fun ideas brewing for the future fall and winter seasons. If things go to plan, tree picking at the farm will be a fun family experience where you can get your Christmas card pictures taken with the tree you choose in the fall, and also enjoy the occasional food or drink stall in coordination with other local groups. 

If you've been to their new Port Elgin location, you'll know that they have a lot more land than the Southampton store. The question lies of what to do with all this space. Well, one night, Janette came up with the really cool idea of a snowshoe path behind the building. This would be the first of its kind in Ontario and it allows you to test out and get comfortable with your snowshoes before buying or renting them. Now, this will all depend on the level of snowfall, but it's definitely a fun activity to look forward to this winter. 

Information Destination Point
Information Destination Point

As we know, Thorncrest Outfitters has been a part of the community for 25 years now and during that time, Janette and her team became very knowledgeable about the area. So, it only made sense that we, the tourism team at Explore the Shores and Thorncrest Outfitters, began to work together to establish Thorncrest Outfitters as an Information Destination Point. 

As Janette commented, they're a well established member of the community, so they have that local knowledge on things like restaurants, hiking, and of course paddling. She found that their clients were missing on so many of the things that make Saugeen Shores special and wanted to be able to share what she's learnt from living and working here - the collaboration with Explore the Shores was a natural procession. Make sure to keep an eye out for the question marks in their windows and, eventually, a brand new sign highlighting them as an Information Point. 

If you want to learn more about paddling, summer and winter rentals, and now, more about what to see and do in Saugeen Shores, you can contact Thorncrest Outfitters at 519-389-3008 or head to their website: